It took me a long time to warm up to Joe Cheng, mainly because he’s never starred in a drama I genuinely loved. However, catching bits and pieces of It Started with a Kiss and a few other dramas, I gradually concluded that he was a good actor (and attractive) so have been more willing to try dramas starring him. Recently I checked out his two latest dramas.
Love Actually. This 2012 drama starring Joe Cheng and Lee Da Hae (whose voice is dubbed) is sweet but unexceptional. It has a fairly standard drama plot: down-on-her-luck woman who is raising her shiftless brother’s child is mistaken for the daughter-in-law of a wealthy family and is taken into their home, while lying about her true identity. It’s all fairly Mrs. Winterbourne, and had quite a bit of potential for romantic and plot drama, but alas it’s written as very paint-by-numbers. Every event is predictable from a mile a way, and all the small factors – lead chemistry, dialogue, small interactional nuances – that can illuminate and elevate a standard plot aren’t present. The Joe Cheng/Lee Da Hae romance definitely has some sweet moments (all of which can be watched in Youtube compilations) but there’s relatively little tension to it and Cheng and Da Hae have good but not crackling chemistry. At 34 episodes, this is cute but forgettable.
You Light Up My Star. Joe Cheng’s latest, currently airing. This co-stars Janine Cheng and is from a well-known director so by all rights it should have been good. Joe and Janine star as a famous acting couple who have starred in films and TV shows together for 7 years and can no longer tell the difference between their pretend and fake love. After years of this, Joe wants out, and begins behaving oddly. The drama, unusually, attempts to deal with depression, which I applaud, but as usual when dramas attempt to break out of their own norm, handles it badly. The drama is disjointed, boring, and one of the most poorly edited and directed dramas I’ve ever seen. Definitely avoid.
Tagged: drama reviews, Janine Cheng, Joe Cheng, Joe Cheng Lee Da Hae chemistry, Lee Da Hae, Love Actually drama review, Twdrama, twdrama reviews, you light up my star drama review, You Light Up my Star review